From the Visalia Times-Delta
Breeding a complicated process
Not all female dogs know how to deal with giving birth
By David Castellon
Breeding dogs is not for amateurs, experts say.
First of all, forget the notion that all female dogs know how to care for their puppies, said Dr. Stuart Sorensen, the veterinarian who runs the Valley Oak Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Spay and Neuter Clinic in Visalia.
"A lot of cases, the [female] doesn't know what to do. She doesn't take care of [her pups] at all," such as licking the slimy afterbirth off the newborns, he said, explaining that if this doesn't happen -- or a human isn't around to clean off the newborns for the mother -- the puppies can choke to death.
In addition, if the mother abandons her pups entirely, the puppies won't get colostrum from a first feeding of the mother's milk, which is vital in protecting dogs from some diseases until they're old enough to get vaccinated.
So owners who figure they can leave the births and after-care of puppies to the parent dogs may be in for some rude awakenings.
And most dog owners aren't going to want to deal with the expenses that come with their dogs becoming pregnant unexpectedly, said Dr. Nan Kuswa, a Visalia veterinarian.
"They're called 'oops litters,' " Kuswa said, adding that out of the pregnancies she sees at her office, 10 percent to 20 percent occur in dogs with owners who want their pets to breed.
And Kuswa said she has seen her share of "repeat oops."
Fairly common in Tulare County are "backyard breeders," those who breed dogs sporadically and in small numbers to make money, said Billy Harmon, the county's director of animal control. Unfortunately, Sorensen said, backyard breeders are not going to spend money taking their dogs to a vet.
"They figure nature will take its course," he said.
[ May 30, 2004, 03:49 PM: Message edited by: Betsy Iole ]"There are some good breeders, but they are minorities."
Kuswa said people who want to breed dogs properly should start by researching the breeds and finding members of kennel clubs that specialize in those breeds.
People who want to buy puppies from breeders need to be equally diligent in their research.